Caravan are an English rock band from Canterbury that released ten studio albums between 1968 and 1982. They debuted with Caravan, a jam-oriented psych release on the American jazz label Verve. On Decca/Deram, Caravan released five studio albums, including In the Land of Grey and Pink and For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night. Live staples from this period include the lengthy suites “For Richard,” “Nine Feet Underground,” and “The Love in Your Eye.”
Guitarist–singer Pye Hastings and drummer Richard Coughlan were Caravan’s two constant members. Keyboardist Dave Sinclair, whose organ work dominated their early sound, did three stints. Their bassists included Richard Sinclair (Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North), John G. Perry (Gringo, Quantum Jump, Aviator), and Mike Wedgwood (Curved Air). Violist Geoffrey Richardson joined as a fifth member in 1973.
Caravan signed to BTM/Arista for the 1976/77 albums Blind Dog at St. Dunstans and Better by Far. In 1982, the original quartet regrouped for Back to Front.
Members: Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals), Richard Coughlan (drums, 1968-2013), Dave Sinclair (keyboards, 1968-71, 1973-75, 1980-2002), Richard Sinclair (bass, vocals, 1968-72, 1981-92), Steve Miller (keyboards, 1971-72), Derek Austin (keyboards, 1972-73), Stuart Evans (bass, 1972-1973), Geoffrey Richardson (guitar, viola, violin, 1972-81, 1995-96, 1997-present), John G. Perry (bass, 1973-74), Mike Wedgwood (bass, 1974-76), Jan Schelhaas (keyboards, 1975-78, 2002-present), Dek Messecar (bass, 1977-81)
Caravan assembled in early 1968 from the remnants of Canterbury R&B/beatsters The Wilde Flowers, which also yielded future members of Soft Machine.
Bassist Richard Sinclair co-founded The Wilde Flowers in 1963 with Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, and brothers Brian and Hugh Hopper. Sinclair served as their rhythm guitarist but cleared out in September 1965 for Scottish-born guitarist–singer Julian Frederick Gordon ‘Pye’ Hastings, who went by the name Pye because he liked hot food. When Wyatt became lead vocalist, Richard Coughlan joined the Flowers as drummer. In 1966, Dave Sinclair (Richard’s Cousin) joined on keyboards. After The Wilde Flowers disbanded in 1967, Dave contacted Richard about forming a new band with Hastings and Coughlan.
Caravan spent the first half of 1968 rehearsing in a rented house in Whitstable, Kent. They borrowed Soft Machine’s P.A. system while the latter act toured the U.S. with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. That June, the members were evicted from the house and spent subsequent months living in tents as they continued rehearsals. Four months later, they became the first English act signed to the New York jazz label Verve Records.
Caravan released their self-titled debut album in October 1968 on Verve Forecast (UK, US, Germany). Side one contains five group-written numbers, including “Cecil Rons,” “Love Song with Flute,” and “Policeman.” Brian Hopper is credited as a fifth writer on “Where But for Caravan Would I,” a nine-minute cut on side two. Hastings sings lead apart from the Sinclair-sung “Policeman” and “Grandma’s Lawn.”
Caravan was recorded at Advision Studios, London, and produced by Tony Cox, an emerging arranger–soundman formerly of the pop duo The Young Idea, best known for their 1967 cover of The Beatles‘ “With a Little Help from My Friends.” This was his first in a body of production credits that would soon include albums by Amory Kane, Gringo, Jonathan Kelly, Mick Greenwood, Mick Softley, Tír na nÓg, and Trees (The Garden of Jane Delawney). The engineer on Caravan, Gerald Chevin, also worked on 1968 albums by The Idle Race (The Birthday Party) and Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Caravan sports a stretched group photo of the members atop ancient columns, designed by Keith Davis (Mainhorse, Mighty Baby, Nucleus, Stud) with photography by Richard Bennett Zeff, who also earned visual credits on 1969 albums by Fairport Convention and Free (Tons of Sobs).
UK and German copies have an orange-tinted back cover with liner notes by English author Barry Miles, a co-organizer of the 1967 London psych event 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, who likens the band’s music to “John Coltrane’s ‘sheets of sound’, each tune constructed, built up with layers of sound, different textures: some delicate and filmy like gauze… others heavy and stomping like old desert blankets loaded with North American memory dust.”
US copies feature a greyscale group pic with liner notes and member bios by Leslie Rubinstein, who refers to Caravan as “Canterbury pilgrims” and “wandering minstrels covering a hell-of-a-lot of underground.” In an oft-cited quote, he declares them “Leaders of a new progressive sound,” one of the earliest uses of the word “progressive” in relation to a rock band.
In Germany, Verve coupled the side openers “Place of My Own” and “Magic Man” onto a single. In the UK, “Ride” was the b-side. On December 31, 1968, Caravan appeared on the BBC Radio 1 program Top Gear hosted by John Peel. They played both sides of the UK single plus the unrecorded “Feelin’, Reelin’, Squealin’” and “Green Bottles for Marjorie.”
On February 3, 1969, Caravan played a high-profile show at London’s Speakeasy Club. That same month, they played London’s Marquee Club as the opening act for fellow up-and-comers Yes (Wednesday the 5th) and Gun (Tuesday the 18th). Verve pulled out of the UK market and dropped the band, which then signed on with producer–manager Terry King, who secured them a new deal with Decca.
On February 22, 1970, Caravan played the first night of the Roundhouse Spring Festival along with Bachdenkel, Groundhogs, and David Bowie‘s Hype. That month, King produced their second album at Tangerine Studios, Dalston. Meanwhile, Caravan played Marquee shows with Griffin (3/5/70) and Patto (6/18/70).
Caravan flew to Rotterdam for the Holland Pop Festival, a three-day June event with sets by Al Stewart, Ekseption, Family, The Flock, Focus, It’s a Beautiful Day, Pentangle, Quintessence, Santana, Stone the Crows, Supersister, Third Ear Band, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Caravan performed on the third day (Sunday the 28th) along with Pink Floyd, Soft Machine (promoting Third), Fairport and Sandy Denny‘s spinoff group Fotheringay. (Two scheduled acts, East of Eden and Renaissance, did not appear.)
In August, Caravan played the Tenth National Jazz and Blues Festival at the Plumpton Race Track in Streat, East Sussex. The four-day event (Aug. 6–9) also featured sets by Audience, Black Sabbath, Cat Stevens, Clark Hutchinson, Colosseum, Deep Purple, Every Which Way, Fat Mattress, Hard Meat, Hardin & York, Incredible String Band, Jackson Heights, Juicy Lucy, Keef Hartley Band, Magna Carta, Peter Green, Rare Bird, Taste, and Yes, promoting their second album Time and a Word with new guitarist Steve Howe (replacing Peter Banks, who played on the album).
If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You
In September 1970, Caravan released their second album, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You. It features eight group-written numbers, including two normal-length pop songs (“Hello Hello,” the title-track), two miniatures (“Asforteri 25,” “Limits”), one lengthier number (“As I Feel I Die”), and three multi-movement suits: “And I Wish I Were Stoned,” “With an Ear to the Ground You Can Make It,” and “For Richard.” The album’s title comes from a lyric in the 1963 Bob Dylan demo “All Over You.”
IICDIAOA was engineered by Robin Sylvester, a recent member of folk-popsters Ora who also worked as a soundman on 1970/71 albums by Black Cat Bones, The Fox, Jan Dukes de Grey (Mice and Rats In the Loft), Jericho Jones, Marsupilami, Michael d’Albuquerque, the Mike Westbrook Concert Band, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, Raw Material (self-titled), and Rory Gallagher. He eventually produced three albums by rustic-rockers Byzantium, formed by his Ora bandmate Jamie Rubinstein.
IICDIAOA is housed in a single sleeve with a Zeff photograph that finds Caravan surrounded in rich green trees and shrubbery. Graphic artist David Jupe created the bubble-letter band logo, which forms a dome at the middle ‘A’ with a green–lime gradient. The back cover features psychedelic egg and sphere typography of the members and side men. Jupe also designed the orange–blue steam-tower image used on 1971 German Bellophon pressings of Steamhammer II (originally released in 1969 as MK II by Steamhammer.)
Hastings — in addition to acoustic and 6- and 12-string electric guitars — is credited with “worn leather strap,” “assorted ashtrays” (percussion references) and “impersonation of a friendly gorilla” (vocals). His brother, reedist Jimmy Hastings (ex-Tally Ho Jazzmen), guests on saxophone and flute.
Caravan preceded IICDIAOA with “Hello Hello” (b/w the title track), which they mimed on the August 20, 1970, edition of Top of the Pops.
Internationally, IICDIAOA appeared on Metronome (Germany) and London Records (North America). On the French label Les Disques Motors, the album appeared with alternate cover art that shows a pallid finger (front) and nose (back) peaking through gaps in dark brown paper.
Upon the album’s release, Caravan went right back into the studio to cut a followup.
1971: In the Land of Grey and Pink
Caravan released their third album, In the Land of Grey and Pink, in April 1971 on Deram, a division of Decca. It features four songs in the 3–7-minute range and a 22-minute suite, all group-credited but largely composed by individual members. Richard Sinclair wrote “Golf Girl” (originally titled “Glow Girl”) about his girlfriend and future wife. Hastings contributed “Love to Love You (and Tonight Pigs Will Fly),” a bouncy pop song that contrasts the more refined mood of other pieces, including the Richard-sung “Winter Wine” and title track.
Side two is consumed with “Nine Feet Underground,” comprised of eight sections primarily composed by Dave Sinclair, who dominates the album with piano and fuzz organ. Hitchcock and engineer Dave Grinsted helped sequence the different parts into sections a–h of the suite, which is instrumental apart from two vocal sections: “Love’s a Friend” and “Disassociation.”
In the Land of Grey and Pink is housed in a gatefold with a Tolkien-inspired painting by Anne Marie Anderson. It depicts a hillside landscape with gnome-like cottages, lined with a cobblestone trail that spirals up to a rock-top castle. Richard based the title on his impressions of Kent, England, at sunset. The inner-gate shows a near-silhouetted image of Caravan walking single file along a hilltop. Anderson also did illustrations for the self-titled albums by Fuchsia and Stud.
Sessions took place between September 1970 and January 1971 at AIR Studios, London. Hitchcock produced the album in succession with titles by Satisfaction, Walrus, Fuchsia (self-titled), and the debut album by Nazareth. Grinsted also engineered 1971 albums by Whistler and Zakarrias. Alan Harris, the assistant engineer at AIR, worked concurrently on titles by The Hollies, Mary Hopkin, and Strawbs.
Land of Grey and Pink was mixed by John Punter, a Decca soundman (Hunter Muskett, Sam Apple Pie, Savoy Brown) who later worked with Osibisa and Roxy Music. Overdubs were applied at Decca Studios by Derek Varnals, who engineered recent albums by Bill Fay (Time of the Last Persecution), Bread Love and Dreams (Amaryllis), Dana Gillespie, Kathe Green, Martha Velez, Moody Blues, Web, and World of Oz.
In August 1971, Dave Sinclair jumped ship to Matching Mole, a new jazz–rock–soul band formed by Robert Wyatt upon his exit from Soft Machine. Caravan enlisted keyboardist Steve Miller, recently of soul-rockers Delivery, which issued the album Fool’s Meeting the prior year on B & C Records. Delivery also contained Steve’s brother, guitarist Phil Miller, who would play on the two Matching Mole albums: Matching Mole and Little Red Record (both 1972).
Caravan gigged through the latter part of 1971 and played Marquee double-bills with Fusion Orchestra (9/5/71) and Khan (12/17/71), a psychedelic space-rock band led by guitarist Steve Hillage (a friend of Caravan) with Egg keyboardist Dave Stewart (their second recorded pairing after Arzachel).
Sessions for the new Caravan album commenced in November 1971 at Tollington Park Studios, London.
1972: Waterloo Lily
Caravan released their fourth album, Waterloo Lily, in May 1972 on Deram. It opens with a lengthy title-track and includes three shorter pieces (“Songs and Signs,” “Aristocracy,” “The World Is Yours”) and two multi-movement suites: “The Love in Your Eye,” an enduring live staple; and “Nothing at All,” an instrumental inspired by the recent Miles Davis jam “Right Off” (from his 1971 album Jack Johnson).
All the songs are credited to Coughlan, Hastings, and Sinclair apart from “It’s Coming Soon” (the inner-section of “Nothing at All”) and “Songs and Signs,” both composed by Miller, who plays Wurlitzer electric piano, grand piano, Hammond organ, and electric harpsichord on Waterloo Lily. Miller’s brother guests on “Nothing at All” with a third Delivery alumni, saxophonist Lol Coxhill, who also plays on “Waterloo Lily.” The five-part “The Love in Your Eye” features brass and winds by Satisfaction trumpeter Mike Cotton, BBC oboist Barry Robinson, and Pye’s flutist brother Jimmy Hastings.
Hitchcock produced Waterloo Lily amid work on albums by Genesis (Foxtrot) and Mellow Candle (Swaddling Songs). Grinsted engineered the album amid work on Khan’s Space Shanty (recorded with ex-Crazy World of Arthur Brown bassist Nicholas Greenwood) and the third album by Trapeze (the last with Glenn Hughes). Assistant Kevin Fuller also engineered Is a Friend?, the singular album by The Parlour Band, a Jersey Island quintet that morphed into A Band Called ‘O’.
Waterloo Lily is housed in a gatefold that reprints the lower half of The Tavern Scene (aka The Orgy), the 1734 engraving of the third painting in the eight-canvass series A Rake’s Progress by English painter William Hogarth (1697–1764). The series depicts the excess and downfall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift, hedonist heir of a miserly merchant. In The Orgy, Rakewell engages in a round-table party with prostitutes. Waterloo Lily zooms in on the cross-legged lady on the lower-right of Hogarth’s engraving (front cover) and Rakewell with a courtesan in his lap (back cover).
Decca illustrator David Anstey did the inner-gate artwork, which shows a zaftig in Victorian lingerie reclined amid flowers, squirting clouds, and a miniature car. Anstey did artwork for numerous other Hitchcock productions, including Walrus, Black Cat Bones, Savoy Brown, and Mellow Candle.
Deram also issued Waterloo Lily in Japan and New Zealand. Elsewhere, the album appeared on London Records (North America), Brain–Metronome (Germany), Kingdom Records (France), and Pink Elephant (Netherlands). On French pressings, the cover has a rusty tint. Dutch copies sport a single sleeve with Anstey’s art in lieu of the Hogarth engraving.
The Waterloo Lily lineup was short-lived because Miller’s jazzy style didn’t suit Hastings or Coughlan. However, Richard Sinclair liked Steve’s approach. After a July gig with Genesis (then promoting Nursery Cryme), the two halves split.
Richard Leaves, Dave Rejoins, John G. Perry
Richard Sinclair followed Steve Miller and Lol Coxhill into a proposed Delivery reunion with Phil Miller and Fool’s Meeting drummer Pip Pyle, who’d spend the intervening two years in a touring lineup of Gong. In 1973, Steve and Lol broke off as a duo and cut a free-jazz album for Caroline Records, a subsidiary of Virgin.
Dave Sinclair, who left Matching Mole after their first album, joined Delivery for an appearance on the French music program Rockenstock with Wyatt (filmed shortly before the singer’s paralysis). During Dave’s brief tenure, Delivery changed its name to Hatfield and the North. Dave Sinclair soon cleared for Dave Stewart, fresh off a post-album lineup of Khan that included Hillage (who soon joined Gong for their Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy) and ex-Octopus bassist Nigel Griggs (who later surfaced in Split Enz). The lineup of Pyle, Stewart, Phil Miller, and Richard Sinclair signed to Virgin for the 1974/75 albums Hatfield and the North and The Rotters Club.
Hastings and Coughlan regrouped Caravan with violist Geoffrey Richardson, bassist Stu Evans, and keyboardist Derek Austin — all newcomers apart from Austin, who originated in Gass and joined the Keef Hartley Band for their 1971 release Little Big Band. This new five-man Caravan toured extensively but didn’t reach the studio.
On October 14, 1972, Caravan performed at City Hall, St. Albans, with unsigned folksters Fat Grapple, the starting vehicle of teenage violin–keyboard prodigy Eddie Jobson, who soon got his break in Curved Air.
In early 1973, Evans and Austin cleared out for bassist–singer John G. Perry and a returning Dave Sinclair. Perry hailed from Gringo (with future Sailor keyboardist Henry Marsh), which cut an eponymous 1971 pop-rock album on MCA. Recently, he played on Unfinished Picture, the second solo album by musician–singer and budding soundman Rupert Hine.
1973: For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night
Caravan released their fifth album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, in October 1973 on Deram. It features two short numbers (“Hoedown,” “Surprise, Surprise”), two medium-length tracks (“C’thlu Thlu,” “The Dog, The Dog, He’s at It Again”), and three suites: “Memory Lain, Hugh–Headloss,” “Be All Right–Chance of a Lifetime,” and the five-part “L’Auberge du Sanglier.” Hastings composed everything except parts C and D of “L’Auberge,” written by Perry (“Pengola”) and Soft Machine keyboardist Mike Ratledge (“Backwards”).
Jimmy Hastings (flute) conducted an eight-piece brass and reeds section on “Memory Lain, Hugh,” which features trumpeter Henry Lowther (Coley, Locomotive, Michael Gibbs, Mike Westbrook) and saxist–clarinetists Tony Coe (CCS, Nucleus, Tudor Lodge) and Tommy Whittle. Hine plays ARP synthesizer on that track and “Be All Right,” which features cellist–arranger Paul Buckmaster (Carly Simon, Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Shawn Phillips).
All tracks (barring “Surprise,” “The Dog,” and “L’Auberge”) feature percussionist Frank Ricotti (Harry Beckett, Mick Softley, Neil Ardley, Norma Winstone). The final two sections of “L’Auberge” (“Backwards,” “A Hunting We Shall Go (reprise)”) feature orchestral arrangements by John Bell (Barclay James Harvest, Lynsey de Paul, Rosetta Hightower) and Martyn Ford (Bryan Ferry, Roger Glover, Sutherland Brothers). Bell and Ford also joint-conducted 1974/75 albums by the Baker Gurvitz Army (self-titled) and the interrelated Graeme Edge Band.
Hitchcock produced For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night amid work on albums by Capability Brown and the Pink Fairies. Sessions took place at Chipping Norton (engineered by Grinsted) and Tollington Park (with Fuller and Varnals). Overdubs were recorded at Decca Studios with engineer John Burns and assistant Lindsay Kidd. Burns — a longtime Decca/Deram assistant soundman to Hitchcock, Grinsted, and Punter — produced the 1973/74 Genesis albums Selling England By the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Kidd subsequently worked with Greenslade and Turning Point.
For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night is housed in a gatefold that shows a pregnant woman asleep beside a rainy window. A live shot of Caravan, overlaid with medium pics of each member, graces the inner-gates. The photographer, Mark Lawrence, also did visuals for Mancunian soulsters Sweet Sensation and Perry’s subsequent group and solo projects.
1974: Caravan & the New Symphonia
On October 28, 1973, Caravan performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane with the New Symphonia Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Ford. A 43-minute document of the show, Caravan & the New Symphonia, appeared on Deram in April 1974. It features renditions of “For Richard” and “The Love in Your Eye,” plus two new Hastings numbers: “Mirror for the Day” and “Virgin on the Ridiculous.”
New Symphonia begins with “Introduction,” a 5:55 instrumental composed and arranged by Simon Jeffes. It starts as a lush string piece before the band enters at 2:40 with a syncopated rhythmic figure and funky Hastings riff (in E). Jeffes did arrangements on Hine’s two prior solo albums and recent titles by Jonesy and Kevin Ayers. He eventually headed the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
New Symphonia features seven backing vocalists, including Vicki Brown and Dark Side of the Moon auxiliary Liza Strike, who both sang on 1973/74 albums by Gordon Giltrap and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The New Symphonia included Jimmy Hastings as well as contrabassist Chris Laurence (Tumbleweed Connection, A Symphony of Amaranths, Stranded), percussionist Morris Pert (Brand X, Nova, Sun Treader, Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind), and Penguin Cafe violinist Gavyn Wright, who also played on albums by Colin Blunstone, Gerry Rafferty (City to City), Jackson Heights (Bump ‘n’ Grind), and Pavlov’s Dog.
Caravan & the New Symphonia was recorded with the Pye Mobile Recording Unit and engineered at AIR Studios by Bill Price, a soundman on 1973/74 albums by Ann Odell (A Little Taste), Camel (Mirage), Free (Heartbreaker), Mott the Hoople, Mushroom, Snafu, Sparks (Propaganda), and Stackridge (The Man In the Bowler Hat).
The cover is credited to Three Men Went to Mow. It shows airborne fish circling over a bald percussionist in a mountain desert.
In 2001, Decca reissued the album as a 78-minute CD, touted as the full Theatre Royal concert in its original running order. This version has an introduction by Alan Black (presenter of the BBC’s Sounds of the Seventies) and adds four Plump in the Night numbers: “Memory Lain, Hugh–Headloss,” “The Dog, The Dog, He’s at it Again,” “Hoedown,” and “A Hunting We Shall Go” — presumably omitted from the original New Symphonia to avoid competition with Plump, released only six months earlier.
Shortly after New Symphonia, Perry cleared out for bassist Mike Wedgwood, recently of Curved Air.
Wedgwood started in a late-period lineup of beatsters The Overlanders. He first recorded with Arthur’s Mother, which issued the 1971 Philips single “On the Dole” (b/w “Butterfly”). In 1971/72, he backed blues-rocker Nicky James on two albums, then joined a reassembled Curved Air for their third album Phantasmagoria. After the departure of violinist Darryl Way (to Wolf) and keyboardist Francis Monkman, Wedgwood helped singer Sonja Kristina assemble a new lineup for the 1973 album Air Cut and four subsequent songs (later released on the archival EP Lovechild).
Perry teamed with Hine and ex-Peddlers drummer Trevor Morais in jazz-funksters Quantum Jump, which released the 1976/77 albums Quantum Jump and Barracuda on the Electric Record Company. Between the two, Perry debuted as a solo artist with the 1976 Decca release Sunset Wading, recorded with Hine, Jeffes, Richardson, and Wright. In 1978, Perry formed the supergroup Aviator with reedist Jack Lancaster (Blodwyn Pig), drummer Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull), and guitarist–singer Mick Rogers (Earth Band). They released two albums, Aviator and Turbulence, in 1979/80 on EMI Harvest.
Caravan played their first show with Wedgwood at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on September 1, 1974. The show was later released in 1980 as The Best of Caravan “Live”, a double-album released in France (Vogue) and Kingdom (Germany). In 2002, Decca issued the show to UK buyers on the 80-minute CD Live at the Fairfield Halls, 1974.
The same month as Fairfield, Caravan started work on a new album at Tollington Park.
1975: Cunning Stunts
Caravan released their sixth studio album, Cunning Stunts, on July 25, 1975, on Decca (UK, Oceania), RCA Victor (Europe), and BTM Records (North America). Side one contains two songs apiece by Hastings (“Stuck in a Hole,” “No Backstage Pass”) and Wedgwood (“Lover,” “Welcome the Day”). Sinclair collaborated with outsider John Murphy on two numbers: “The Show of Our Lives” and the 18-minute “The Dabsong Conshirtoe,” a six-part suite that consumes side two. Richardson contributed the postlude “Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park Rag” (placed at the end of side one on BTM pressings).
Sinclair and Jimmy Hastings co-arranged brass on parts B and E of “Dabsong”: “Ben Karratt Rides Again” and “Sneaking out the Bare Quare.” Wedgwood arranged Moog brass on “Stuck in a Hole” and strings on “Lover” and “No Backstage Pass.”
Hitchcock produced Cunning Stunts in succession with 1975 albums by Camel (The Snow Goose) and Renaissance (Scheherazade and Other Stories). He also produced Curved Air Live, taken from a post-Wedgwood reunion of the original lineup in December 1974, prior to their final lineup with (future Police) drummer Stewart Copeland. Overdubs were added at AIR and Decca Studios.
Cunning Stunts — a spoonerism for “stunning cunts” — lists ten engineers, including Burns, Price, Fuller, Decca’s Graham Meek, and AIR’s Sean Milligan. Meek also worked on the 1975 Threshold release Blue Jays, the collaboration of Moodies Justin Hayward and John Lodge; and the 1977 self-titled album by Crawler, a followup to the late Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler. Sean engineered 1974/75 albums by Kokomo, Roxy Music (Country Life), and Chopyn, a group with Ann Odell and jazz-rock guitarist Ray Russell.
Hipgnosis designed the Cunning Stunts cover, which shows a man trying on a yellow–black diamond-patterned suit. The black diamonds render the suit (and the model) invisible. His frontal reflection shows a yellow suit (no diamonds). He’s half-undressed in his side reflection. A striped jacket (yellow–orange–black) hangs nearby as a second option. The back cover shows diamond-framed live shots of each member (mostly pink-lighted) with a repeat of the cover model (center). BTM copies have a green margin.
Dave Sinclair Quits
In late 1975, Dave Sinclair left Caravan a second time. He formed the Polite Force, an unsigned jazz-rock band with onetime Wilde Flowers bassist Graham Flight. Recordings from their two-year existence were compiled on Canterbury Knights, a 12-song disc by archivists Voiceprint.
In 1978, Dave joined Camel for the tour behind Breathless, their final album with Pete Bardens. The tour reunited Dave with his cousin, Richard Sinclair, who joined Camel for their 1977 fifth album Rain Dances. In Camel, Dave also interacted with his (second) replacement in Caravan, keyboardist Jan Schelhaas.
Schelhaas first appeared on a 1969 solo album by singer Mike Hart (ex-Roadrunners, Liverpool Scene). In 1971, he recorded the album Albert 1 with the National Head Band, which featured drummer Lee Kerslake (Toe Fat, Uriah Heep). In 1973, Schelhaas played on one track (“Mama Nature Said”) on Vagabonds of the Western World, the third album by Irish rockers Thin Lizzy. He joined the backing band of on/off Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore for the 1973 CBS release Grinding Stone.
The lineup of Hastings, Coughlan, Richardson, Wedgwood, and Schelhaas recorded their singular studio album on the Manor Mobile, a mobile studio owned by Virgin Records co-founder Richard Branson; situated outside the Manor: Branson’s mansion studio in Shipton-on-Cherwell, used extensively on mid-seventies recordings by Virgin artists Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge) and Tangerine Dream (Phaedra, Rubycon).
1976: Blind Dog at St. Dunstans
Caravan released their seventh studio album, Blind Dog at St. Dunstans, on April 23, 1976, on BTM (UK, Europe) and Arista (US). It opens with the exuberant “Here Am I” and features four linked numbers: “A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik,” “Bobbing Wide,” “Come on Back,” and “Oik (reprise).” Side two features the funky “Jack and Jill,” the uptempo soul-rocker “Can You Hear Me?” and the symphonic ballad “All the Way (with John Wayne’s Single-Handed Liberation of Paris).” Hastings wrote everything apart from “Chiefs and Indians,” Wedgwood’s shifting epic about diplomacy.
Schelhaas’ arsenal consists of the Clavinet D6 and the Mini-Moog and ARP String Ensemble synthesizers, in addition to organ, piano, and electric piano.
Jimmy Hastings adds flute and alto saxophone (“All the Way”) and clarinet and tenor saxophone (“Come on Back,” “Oik (reprise)”). The reprise features backing vocals by the Chanter Sisters (Irene and Doreen), who also sing on the 1976 UA release New Nation by American glam-rocker Roderick Falconer. They also appear on mid-seventies albums by Andy Fairweather Low, David Essex, Heavy Metal Kids, and the Earth Band (The Roaring Silence). Their first of three albums as a duo appeared concurrently on Polydor.
Blind Dog at St. Dunstans is the last Caravan album produced by David Hitchcock, who worked with the German band Birth Control on their 1976/77 albums Backdoor Possibilities and Increase. Punter engineered Blind Dog with Island soundman Phil Ault, who worked on albums by Dog Soldier, Hanson, Heads Hands & Feet, Joan Armatrading, String Driven Thing, and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. Most recently, he worked with the Liverpool music-hall acts Deaf School (2nd Honeymoon) and Nasty Pop (self-titled, Mistaken ID). Ault engineered the Blind Dog backing tracks at Basing St. Studios (aka Island Studios).
The title Blind Dog at St. Dunstans refers to a phrase by English playwright Noël Coward, who once explained to a child — when asked why one dog was mounting another — that one dog was blind and kicking the other to St. Dunstans: a street and cathedral in Canterbury. The cover shows a suited blind dog on St. Dunstans amid a crowd of anthropomorphic canines; one holding a sign that reads “THE WORLD IS GOING TO THE HUMANS.” The medieval Westgate gatehouse is depicted in the background. On the back cover, the blind dog reclines in a chair with a glass of red wine, surrounded by caricatures of Caravan by artist David English.
On May 4, 1976, Caravan performed the album at New Victoria Theatre, London, for DJ John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show (aired 5/17/76). The concert appeared on the 1999 archival CD Surprise Supplies on the HTD label. It features all of Blind Dog (barring “Jack and Jill”) and a 16-minute version of the Waterloo Lily suite “Love in Your Eye.”
- Caravan (1968)
- If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You (1970)
- In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971)
- Waterloo Lily (1972)
- For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973)
- Cunning Stunts (1975)
- Blind Dog at St. Dunstans (1976)
- Better by Far (1977)
- The Album (1980)
- Back to Front (1982)
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